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Monday Message Board

March 7th, 2011

It’s time again for the Monday Message Board to resume. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpit, please.

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  1. Ikonoclast
    March 7th, 2011 at 14:02 | #1

    Time for a change of pace. I often buy DVDs of movies that are a little non-mainstream.

    One I really enjoyed was “Gattaca”.

    “1997. Directed by Andrew Niccol. Starring Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Gore Vidal. A genetically inferior man assumes the identity of a superior one in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel.” – IMDb.

    This is hard science fiction in the sense that it is set in a close future and features believable scientific developments (extensions of current science) and credible social developments to match. The style is self-consciously cinematic (but not obtrusively so) with many subtle references to Hollywood dialog and cinematic traditions. I enjoyed the blend of Film Noir themes and imagery with the almost Huxleyan science fiction style. Look for nice symbolic touches like the helical staircase (reminiscent of a DNA double-helix) in the shared apartment.

  2. March 7th, 2011 at 16:43 | #2

    Dear Prof. Quiggin,

    I followed a link from Balloon Juice and read your post on Shibboleths from Feb. 17th and I was especially struck by this passage:
    A conspiracy-theoretic view of the world in which liberal elites (a term encompassing Democrats, unions, schoolteachers, scientists, academics and many others) are plotting to undermine the American way of life and replace it with some unspecified, but awful alternative. In this case, answers to these questions reflect actual beliefs

    This immediately brought to mind these comments by Rush Limbaugh:
    ClimateGate Hoax: The Universe of Lies Versus the Universe of Reality
    November 24, 2009

    We’re going to talk about Copenhagen. We really live, folks, in two worlds. There are two worlds. We live in two universes. One universe is a lie. One universe is an entire lie. Everything run, dominated, and controlled by the left here and around the world is a lie. The other universe is where we are, and that’s where reality reigns supreme and we deal with it.

    This can drive rational, reasonable, average people insane trying to juxtapose these two universes — the Universe of Reality and the Universe of Lies.

    You know, folks, the two universes here — The Universe of Lies, The Universe of Reality — they don’t overlap anymore. And this is even bigger than global warming, which was my point yesterday. It’s about everything that the left is involved in. What this fraud, what the uncovering of this hoax exposes, is the corruption that exists between government and academia and science and the media. Science has been corrupted. We know the media has been corrupted for a long time. Academia has been corrupted. None of what they do is real. It’s all lies! It is all oriented toward a political outcome. It’s bigger than global warming. And of course science has been corrupted here. Science is being used for political purposes.

    So we have now the Four Corners of Deceit, and the two universes in which we live. The Universe of Lies, the Universe of Reality, and The Four Corners of Deceit: Government, academia, science, and media. Those institutions are now corrupt and exist by virtue of deceit. That’s how they promulgate themselves; it is how they prosper.

  3. Alice
    March 7th, 2011 at 17:28 | #3

    @Steve J.
    Oh Steve – how wrong can one person be about where the real hoax is?? – you got it part right with the media but so wrong every where else my whole body is screaming “sympathy for the devil”
    The greatest hoax is that you have been hoaxed.

  4. Alice
    March 7th, 2011 at 17:37 | #4

    and Steve says
    “Those institutions are now corrupt and exist by virtue of deceit. That’s how they promulgate themselves; it is how they prosper.”

    Isnt such prosperity a true market virtue by any liberarian / conservative view – if those institutions hoaxed us all and propsered dont they deserve their place amongst the darwininian fittest?

    Isnt it the strong that survives Steve? Isnt that what you want? You got it. Even institutions you thought incapabale of hoaxes actually exist…and they are hoaxing you. The London School of Economics is accepting donations from Gaddafi’s regime. Isnt that OK??? (I mean they are not just there to sit on their posteriors they have to go find money – any money will do) – after all I mean doesnt profit and business trump all other concerns?

    So why shouldnt these institutions committ hoaxes Steve – thats the way of the world now – “get used to it”.

    The market decides all and if a hoaxer gets away with it …a la Madoff…well he wuz lucky and smart but mostly no regulators were available to stop the bastard… but you seem not to like it that way….and now cry indignation that you live in a world where people and institutions are hoaxing you??

    Irony alerts on full blast and they will burn Steve’s argument where it needs to burned.

  5. SJ
    March 7th, 2011 at 19:08 | #5

    Alice, I think Steve J was saying that John was right, not wrong. :)

  6. jakerman
    March 7th, 2011 at 20:51 | #6

    A must read presentation from Karoley on New paper Op Eds and letters re AGW:


  7. Alan
    March 7th, 2011 at 21:15 | #7

    I am a physicist/engineer. I run a small and very profitable manufacturing business but I don’t know much of politics and economics . I have a question. Please excuse me if it is naive, just as I would excuse you if you said something silly within my areas of expertise.

    What if the Federal Labor government had said “We are going to increase the tax-free threshold for income tax to $x,xxx per year. We are going to fund it with a tax on the consumption of carbon-containing fuels at the rate of $yy per tonne”?

  8. paul walter
    March 7th, 2011 at 22:13 | #8

    I note Prof Quiggin’s comments on sockpuppets and that has me in mind of what a chaotic and at times arbitrary, authoritarian place the blogosphere can be.
    A new blogger, Dr. Jennifer Wilson, a former rape victims counsellor, has a site called “No place for sheep”
    She is the latest victim of the caprices so rife in this field of public discourse.
    Having fought for right of reply on the ABC’s Drum to some of the hyperbole that trickles steadily from the pen of that one issue pony, Meryl Tankard Reist, on the monotonous tabloid subject of “morality” (only applies in matters related to sex, doesn’t it, morality?) Dr Wilson managed a right of reply on the basis of “balance: (the ABC’s own suppression mantra used against it) to refute Reist Tankard on matters vaguely related to p* rn and repesentation and specifically a Kyle Sandilands type with a silly song about his thoughts of exploitation of his drunk girlfriend.
    Why, Wilson’s thread starter must have been effective!
    The ABC belatedly hoisted it down.
    Needles to say, Reist Tankard’s piece is still there, but not Wilson’s alternative take.
    Given that that Tankard Reist shelters under the aegis of people like Miranda Devine, former Fairfax editor and now ABC boss Mark Scott and board members like Janet Albrechtsen, one need hardly look overly far as to to answer as to why the Wilson thread starter was “pulled”.

  9. manchild
    March 8th, 2011 at 06:06 | #9

    Why is it that the left seem to think that the media is controlled by the right, and the right seem to think the media is controlled by the left? The desire for everyone to see themselves as part of the underdogs seems a little bizarre to me.

  10. jakerman
    March 8th, 2011 at 07:03 | #10

    Man child, why are the right so rich with denialist?

  11. Fran Barlow
    March 8th, 2011 at 08:39 | #11


    Why is it that the left seem to think that the media is controlled by the right, and the right seem to think the media is controlled by the left?

    Plainly, at most, only one of these positions can be right. Perhaps instead of asking why they assert this, you should attempt to test whether either has a persuasive claim.

    You’d have to define left and right of course and “the media” and the time period in question as well — no easy tasks those.

    A simpler question might simply involve determining how the mass distribution broadcast media in Australia determine the boundaries of “the mainstream” or “balance”. That ought to give you an idea of where they are in left-right terms (assuming you’ve defined these with sufficient specificity.

    Good luck with that.

  12. Alice
    March 8th, 2011 at 08:57 | #12

    Oh no… not again SJ…you mean…..I didnt notice that Steve Js irony alerts..
    speaking of which did any one notice Albrechtsens lame efforts on Qand A last night? – she needs to be sent to the sandpit for trying to steer the discussion towards a pro tea party engineering experiment in Australia and an anti feminist rant – despite the actual topic.
    That woman really is a charicature.

  13. Ikonoclast
    March 8th, 2011 at 09:08 | #13


    On the face of it, I see no problem with increasing the tax free threshold, implementing a carbon tax and executing the changes in an approximatley revenue neutral fashion. The tax system would be made more progressive, the poor and lower middle would be compensated in a sliding scale fashion and a legislated tax price would be placed on carbon pollution. The idea has simplicity to recommend it. An implement (whether in governance, finance or engineering) should always be the simplest one possible which will actually do the job.

    The only additions I would make to the above model (because it is still a little too simple to get the full job done), would be to;

    1. remove all other fuel excises by rolling them into the carbon tax, again in a revenue neutral fashion;
    2. progressively remove all fuel subsidies as these distort and run counter to the carbon tax intent;
    3. consider a sliding scale (imputed) carbon emissions import duty on goods from countries with no (or no comparable) carbon tax or carbon price scheme.

  14. Chris Warren
    March 8th, 2011 at 09:25 | #14


    A balanced view would make this judgment based on evidence. It is not hard to see that the Fairfax Press is controlled by the right. It is not hard to see the Murdoch press is controlled by the right. It is not hard to see the Packer press as being controlled by the right.

    If you want to argue that the ABC is not controlled by the right, then you have no idea of how John Howard loaded it up and the Right Wing of the ALP have largely followed suit.

    The 8-member ABC Board consists of:

    Newman [Capitalist - ASX]
    Skala [Capitalist - Deutsche Bank]
    Hurley [Capitalist - Australian Hotels Association]
    Windschuttle [Capitalist - Quadrant]
    Scott [Capitalist - Fairfax]
    Bart [Capitalist - ANZ]
    Schultz [ALP appointee - Griffith Review]
    Lynch [ALP appointee - Arts]

    So which media is controlled by the Left?

    This proposition appears to be another Right-wing conspiracy theory to camouflage their own subversion of society.

  15. Ernestine Gross
    March 8th, 2011 at 09:31 | #15


    One does not need to be an economist to contemplate the question: How would an increase in the tax free threshold benefit people on age pensions? The answer is, obviously, not at all.

    I have a question to you as a physicist/engineer. What would you do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, locally and internationally, to satisfy targets specified by scientists?

  16. gerard
    March 8th, 2011 at 09:34 | #16

    Windschuttle [Capitalist - Quadrant]

    LOL. As if Windschuttle has the brains to be a capitalist.

  17. Ikonoclast
    March 8th, 2011 at 09:40 | #17

    @Steve J.

    Rush Limbaugh has got one thing right. There is a real universe and there is a delusionist’s universe (the universe of lies). But poor ol’ Rush has them confused.

    As always with delusions, the content of the delusion is very instructive. Limbaugh singles out the “Four Corners of Deceit as government, academia, science, and media. Now let us remember that he is talking about democratic (or since it is the USA) at least quasi-democratic government. He is talking about acadamia which in broad terms consists of research, teaching and debate in all branches of human knowledge and culture. He is talking about science which today means the experimental sciences; “an enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the world” – Wikipedia. And he is talking about media (the fourth estate) which one could characterise as being a form of published free expression and free opinion if not captured by vested interests. In the operations of democracy, the media and the cultural/humanities portion of academia, a healthy plurality of expression and opinion is the best guard against vested interests, pernicious views, exploitation and oppression.

    But Limbaugh is against all those so we most conclude that Limbaugh is in favour of;

    1. Dictatatorship (the opposite of democracy);
    2. Dogma (the opposite of broad investigation, free expression and informed debate);
    3. Fantasy (the opposite of empirical investigation);
    4. Censorship (the opposite of free publication of ideas and opinions).

    What Limbaugh criticises, makes it very clear what he actually stands for.

  18. Ikonoclast
    March 8th, 2011 at 09:42 | #18


    Perhaps it should have been “capitalist (or imperialist) sympathiser”.

  19. Fran Barlow
    March 8th, 2011 at 09:46 | #19


    The problem here is going to be the impact on those under the current threshhold, and even those who are not much over it won’t benefit by very much. If relatively disadvantaged people are to be not made worse off then the changes in arrangements need to ensure that they receive benefits of at least equal value in their hands as the bump in costs associated with pricing CO2 emissions.

    So rather than moving the threshhold, it would be better to compensate them with some combination of cash or valuable non-discretionary services — e.g. dental, health, education, food staple or grocery credits, transport — that are unlikely to move in price as a result of the assistance. This assistance is also more temporally just since tax threshhold changes may take some time to increase disposable income even in those above it.

    Politically, it’s also more salient. Despite the grizzling over tax, one suspects that most people only have a vague idea of how much is taken, percentage-wise out of their income. having assistance appearing each fortnight in your bank account or on a smart card is far more tangible, likely to win more direct support and undercut the Abbottista disinformation campaigns. Whom are people going to believe — Abbott? or their lying eyes?

  20. Chris Warren
    March 8th, 2011 at 10:01 | #20

    Ikonoclast :
    Perhaps it should have been “capitalist (or imperialist) sympathiser”.

    OK – OK … how about?

    “Capitalist ideologue”

  21. Ikonoclast
    March 8th, 2011 at 10:03 | #21

    @Ernestine Gross

    My knowledge of the pension system and its interactions with the tax system may be a little out of date so correct me if I am wrong in my assumptions. Age pension is taxable. A person with part age pension and part income from personal effort may still currently exceed the tax free income threshold and thus benefit from the raising of the threshold. The situation may be more complicated for self-funded retirees (on part age or no age pension) who are currently allowed higher thresholds. This latter category is already very favourably treated and perhaps needs no compensation.

    Full age pensioners under Alan’s scenario may not get compensated so that is an “on the face of it” error that I made in my assessment. The simple solution would be to raise the basic pension rate with a one off raise in addition to CPI. I’d make this revenue neutral by raising tax as the top end of the tax scale.

    More generally, in this arena of public policy, as in so many others, any number of simple or straightforward ideas fall foul, not so much of their own simplicity but of the absurd complexity of other parts of the system. Much of this absurd complexity comes from wealthy vested interests and lobbies getting special deals all through the tax law. To correct this, we need more political will and a party in power (not Liberal or Labor) that is not hostage to corporate vested interests.

  22. jakerman
    March 8th, 2011 at 10:50 | #22


    Karoly gets one point wrong in his off the cuff comments during questions. He says the Michell is suing the former employee who blew the whisle on the Oz’s anti-science. But its worse than that. Mitchell threaten to sue not his former employee, but the reportor who tweeted the report of the former employee.

    BTW was this another bluff from Mitchell, to try and stifle critcal reporting on his actions? Or is he following through with his threats (with all the disclosure that would require)?

  23. Ernestine Gross
    March 8th, 2011 at 10:52 | #23


    IMHO, it requires one mature, concentrated and analytical mind to cut through a complex problem – taxation being one of them – to come up with one or a small number of possible solution concepts. These solution concepts could then be presented for comments to the public for comment. But it seems to me the current corporate mentality – management fad – (public and private) does not recognise this. Dr Ken Henry, a PhD in economics with access to data and human as well as technical resources to analyse it, many years experience in Treasury, and, IMHO, a clear and incisive mind, was side-lined.

    The management fad for many years has been to put a word in the room, hire PR people to ‘sell’ the word and let people guess what it could mean. This generates a state of what I call administrative fog, a condition suitable for determined special interest groups to get what they want and plenty of opportunities to engage in verbal shadow boxing among competing managers. ‘The rest of the people become exhausted from the futile mental exercise in trying to figure out what is going on and the phrase ‘something had to be done’ then comes in handy for everybody and nobody can be held responsible for anything. In turn, this gives new opportunities for those who make a living from reviews when the ‘unintended’ consequences emerge. A bit harsh and simplified, I agree, but the managerial mess is so complex that using a finer brush would require a thesis.

    Now, let me try to defend my ‘view’ (*) on what the problem is by noting that the primary objective of a carbon tax (administered price mechanism to reduce ghg emissions) is already being weaseled away in the public mind by shifting the focus of discussions to tax neutrality while hiding that what ‘they’ want is actually an overall reduction in tax revenue available for public expenditure and to free ride!

    So, I propose for the public to say something simple to the politicians such as: Yes we want to have a reduction in ghg emissions. We want you to design a mechanism which is fair, equitable and technologically feasible. Please come forward with your proposals with specific reference to ‘fair’, ‘equitable’ and ‘technologically feasible’ and a clear time line for implementation as well as penalties for those who do not comply. Then we can provide feedback.

    (*)another stupid word which belongs to the vocabulary of the said management ‘school of thought’ – there is not end to these words as you can see)

  24. Jim Birch
    March 8th, 2011 at 11:11 | #24

    Perhaps the the government is getting this backwards. If it runs the tax revenue neutral and returns the money could be called the Low Carbon BONUS: Cut your emissions and SAVE.


    It would, in fact, be a bonus for 50% of people if the carbon use curve is normally distributed, wouldn’t it? We’d just need to get the return mechanism right.

  25. Donald Oats
    March 8th, 2011 at 13:07 | #25

    Yes, I noticed that too; The editor of the nOz, Chris Mitchell, claimed he would/might sue Julie Posetti for tweeting what Asa Wahlquist discussed at an academic conference.

  26. boconnor
    March 8th, 2011 at 13:23 | #26

    Re: getting a carbon tax/ETS through the political process.

    I think the lesson from other changes such as the floating of the dollar, changes to tariffs, and the GST is that in the beginning people scream that the (their) world will cave in and then once its in they just get used to it (it becomes part of the status quo). So perhaps the trick is to go with the change early in the 3 year electoral cycle. In that sense the delays by Labor during the Rudd term in getting something sorted on the ETS and then the blinking about a double dissolution election to force it through were just bad politics. Tis a pity Gillard seems too timid to push this through and instead went for the committee solution (great for those who can’t make decisions) – I suspect voters would warm to a forthright, strong woman championing a solution to the greatest threat we have to the a livable planet.

  27. Ikonoclast
    March 8th, 2011 at 13:27 | #27

    @Ernestine Gross

    I agree with you. Your characterisation of obfuscating managerialism, in your second paragraph in particular, was excellent.

    The “bait and switch”-like tactics that turn selling the primacy of a carbon tax into selling the primacy of revenue neutrality are also typical of corporate mangerialist cunning.

    Revenue neutrality (as a fact rather than a selling point) is both a relative thing and a transient thing. Revenue neutrality, among other things, is surely relative to the stages in the economic cycle. Revenue neutrality can also be affected by many other decisions which may be taken at any time.

    However, I have nothing in principle against maintaining broad revenue neutrality during the implementation of a carbon tax. The tax makes carbon polluting manufacture more costly. In the revenue neutral scenario, heavy polluters and high income earners can pay more tax and low income earners can pay less tax. On this basis alone, it might seem on a very facile view (not saying you take such a view at all) that no net penalty exists to deter carbon pollution. However, non-carbon-polluting manufacture will gain a tax advantage and thus a competitive advantage.

    I also keep hammering away at the very important point of removing fossil fuel subsidies. But this is like the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about. The fossil fuel subsidies are sacrosanct to the corporations and the two parties they have bought for a mess of political donations, Liberal and Labour, or as I call them the Illiberal Party and the Unlabor Party.

    I hope my overall reasoning is right. I’m open to being corrected.

  28. Ernestine Gross
    March 8th, 2011 at 15:20 | #28


    Thank you for your reply. First I’d like to go back to a post from a previous thread in which you talked about the relative corruptabiliy of two mechanisms (tax or cap and trade). I didn’t get around to responding immediately. I take on board your argument in favour of tax, particularly regarding the international aspect of the problem because the various countries in our world differ not only in the economic variables I mentioned but also in the institutional arrangements.

    Elephant in the room – fossil fuel subsidies. I agree that on the face of it, this is an obvious target. I don’t comment on it because I don’t know enough about the fossil fuel subsidy to be confident in concluding that its removal will not have some other major effect on an element of the economy. For example, is it possible that the removal of this subsidy will result in an increase in local food prices to such an extent that with or without a carbon tax, (full) pensioners and low income earners will not be able to eat properly (substitute healthy or decent living standard, if you like)..

    I am not clear on your paragraph 4. A carbon tax is actually an administered price (determined by government), a dollar amount per unit of ghg emission. As such it enters as a cost item in the calculations of producers of marketable goods and services. It arrives at final consumers in total or a fraction, depending on the ‘competitiveness’ of the various markets. As such, relatively low or non-carbon polluters do not have a ‘tax advantage’ but rather they have lower production costs than their high carbon polluting competitors, assuming there are alternative production technologies.

    On tax neutrality. I don’t accept strict tax neutrality as a secondary goal because it would entail that the actual costs of designing, implementing and monitoring a carbon reduction policy has to be paid out of existing revenue streams. This is turn would mean a reduction in other expenditue to be consistent with the stated policy goal of ‘balanced budget’ over a period of time. (In my recent discussion, John Humphreys revealed that he wants strict tax neutrality and is happy to free-ride on those who want ghg emission reductions.)

    A such qualified tax neutrality as a secondary goal for the intermediate but not immediate future makes sense. The question is whether it is feasibly and how should it be implemented. I don’t know how confident the government is in predicting how an as yet unknown price of a unit of carbon emission will affect the prices of the vast range of consumer goods and services. And, more importantly, how will these price changes affect the budget feasible set of choices of (full) pensioners, low income earners and people who, in terms of incomes are neither rich nor poor but have not managed as yet to reduce their debt commitments to have a bit of ‘free cash flow’ to make adjustments. Given my limited information and having a simple mind (Fran, don’t miss to quote me on this!) I would consider taking the survey data on household expenditure patterns by income bracket, making a guess on how prices adjust (not forgetting that there is a heavy tax on cigarettes which violates the GST rule too), adding a bit to reduce the risk of creating misery unintentionally and declare the resulting sum ‘first round compensation’. Then, after a while when the price effects have played out a little, the compensation for this group of people can be refined. High income earners have benefitted relatively more from the top tax rate cuts in recent years; no compensation at this stage. I don’t know how much revenue would be left after compensating sufficiently to fulfill a rough approximation of what is known in my area as ‘minimum wealth condition’, which, incidentally, is a necessary condition to attach meaning to the word ‘choice’. Suppose there is some left. I would put time constrained subsidies for the development of low C02 emission renewable energy production technologies and energy saving consumption goods and building technologies as the second most important item. Maybe nothing is required in this area. I don’t have the information to make a best guess. Then, or concurrently, depending on the answer to the to me unknown, public transport infrastructure is next on the agenda. Obviously, people with a relatively tight budget constraint can only switch from petrol consuming transport to less polluting public transport if there is public transport. (Same idea as with renewable energy…). When the price effect is known a bit better then the fuel tax subsidy might be scrapped. There is also the idea of reducing transportation by means of bringing the producers of fruit and vegetables closer to the consumers or vice versa. If something is left during the adjustment period, increase the tax free threshhold.

    Now ‘everybody’ says the Labour Government is implementing the Green’s policy. Perhaps my memory is unreliable when I say that the Greens had a full proposal which, IMHO, was logcially consistent such that discussion about particular parameter values is possible. Surprising outcome: No.

    Carbon price on imported items. This seems to be a holy cow item to be avoided at any cost. In principle, a carbon price on imported items makes sense. The way things are going, Australian exports might be levied with such a price unless ‘something is being done’ to ‘move forward’.


  29. Hermit
    March 8th, 2011 at 15:35 | #29

    You’d think some climate nasties would emerge during the term of the Gillard government, for example a full or partial transition back to El Nino. Some reckon the next one will be severe. In that case we should ask Abbott if climate change is still ‘crap’ or it is not Australia’s problem. If the carbon scheme is watered down to near irrelevance and subsequent events convince even Blind Freddie of climate change I wonder what happens then. I suspect the same boorish people who now insist upon inaction will then insist something needs to be done. If this takes place in say 2013 it must be pointed out opportunities for action went begging from 2007 to 2011. I think some blame shifting would be justified. Alas conservatives seem unable to think that far ahead.

    In all likelihood fuel prices will rise strongly with or without a carbon tax. That suggests integrating fuel excise with CO2 penalties while abandoning most of the subsidies. To take one example; if there were no commercial diesel rebate and fuel taxation was predominantly carbon based then private motorists would pay similar prices for diesel as mining companies. Other changes could include removal of company cars as fringe benefits and re-indexation of fuel excise. However I fear the very same captains of industry who now say they welcome the certainty of carbon tax won’t give up their perks readily. Integration of fuel and carbon taxation has the potential to clarify some of these issues and add some flexibility.

  30. Donald Oats
    March 8th, 2011 at 16:02 | #30

    Two stories on the ABC concerning Chernobyl – a tour by Norman Lemont, and the topic of the hour, EU carbon price expert astounded at debate in Australia. Both interesting in the own ways.

  31. Donald Oats
    March 8th, 2011 at 16:24 | #31

    Gattaca was good science fiction, but my old favourite is Bladerunner with young Harry Ford, Sean Young, and Daryl Hannah, Rutger Hauer, and Edward James Olmos (1982). Arguably hard science fiction, if you accept the premise of replicants; in any case, it is an exploration the human condition just the same. Certainly star-laden at the time, if not set in the stars.

  32. Jim Birch
    March 8th, 2011 at 16:29 | #32

    @Ernestine Gross
    Fuel subsidies are a separate issue. If there are good reasons for having them, these would remain good reasons. Some people think there are good reasons. Politically, getting the carbon tax across the line is hard enough without working up the most powerful coalition of opposing interests possible. If you try for a everything-that-needs-doing omnibus approach you’ll end up with a complex fail .

    OTOH there’s no reason why the carbon tax shouldn’t apply to fuel that also attracts subsidies. Simplicity in taxation is desirable.

    Maybe the subsidies should go but please don’t conflate it with a carbon tax. I expect that carbon fuels will always be around for some special purposes even in a carbon neutral economy. They’ll just be fully accounted. At this stage, we are aiming to start pushing on some big number, high momentum items. Stay on target. :)

  33. March 8th, 2011 at 16:32 | #33

    ALICE -

    I was trying to point out that Limbaugh exemplified one of Prof. Quiggen’s cases of ignorance.

  34. Jim Birch
    March 8th, 2011 at 16:39 | #34

    @Donald Oats
    Bladerunner is coming out in a new “final” cut with a few fixes:


    One of my top three, with original Alien and 2001. The Directors Cut that excised the voice-over and took a bit more time was a massive improvement; this is more of a polish up up of some story inconsistencies and a couple deficient scenes.

  35. Donald Oats
    March 8th, 2011 at 16:59 | #35

    @Jim Birch
    So I’ve just read – thought I’d chase down some history on the movie and ran into a similar piece about Ridley Scott’s ideas being put into “purest” form as the blurb put it. Or, un-dumbing down (“smarting up”, perhaps?) the original, and adding some extra indications that Deckard the blade runner (Harrison Ford) may be a replicant with memory implants, in the same way as Rachel (Sean Young) was. It is meant to be ambiguous, I believe.

    I agree with you on Alien, the first blockbuster of Ridley Scott. An excellent flick in the science fiction category, with horror cross-over features (“Sci Ho Fi”, perhaps?).

  36. Donald Oats
    March 8th, 2011 at 17:03 | #36

    BTW, anyone know why Deltoid, and/or scienceblogs.com more generally, are offline?

  37. March 8th, 2011 at 17:04 | #37

    Albrechtson’s anti feminist rant?
    I am desperately seeking a definition: what is an anti feminist?
    So far I’ve found one definition – an anti feminist is not a woman.
    This does not satisfy.
    Do you know the answer?

  38. Ernestine Gross
    March 8th, 2011 at 17:35 | #38

    @Jim Birch

    I am not in the advocacy business but I strongly believe that the question on fuel subsidies will be raised again and again – because it seems to be so obvious – and I’ve given my two penies worth on my reservations about the ‘so obvious bit’ and on the order of priority.

    I’d like to send you a smiley in return but I keep on forgetting how to do it.

  39. Alice
    March 8th, 2011 at 19:28 | #39

    @Jennifer Wilson
    No – all I know is that Joe Hockey is a better feminist that Janet Albrechtsen ever was…this is a major advance!!!!! I dont normally say good on a lib but on this matter I do. Quotas for boardrooms. Its long overdue. The Aussie old boys network needs a right royal kick up the backside and no they havent been able to manage it by free mrakets.
    Women work bloody hard these days and pay extraordibnary amounts in childcare and both incomes are needed to pay the stupid mortgage so anyone (left, centre, right) who finally does something about 60 plus years of inequality in pay and opportunity between men and women in this country is fine by me.
    Joe Hockey has been looking at his daughter and wants her to have the same opportunities as his sons.
    Good on you Joe – a better feminist than Janet Albrechtsen any day.

  40. Alice
    March 8th, 2011 at 19:31 | #40

    @Jennifer Wilson
    Lets face is – is Janet a woman or a robot?

  41. jakerman
    March 8th, 2011 at 19:32 | #41

    @Donald Oats

    No Donald but its bugging me.

  42. Ikonoclast
    March 8th, 2011 at 19:40 | #42

    @Ernestine Gross

    I find myself being convinced by your arguments. I wouldn’t hold out for strict revenue neutrality. Equity is a key issue. Incremental implementation with checks on the shakeout of imposts on different dempgraphics is a good idea from an equity point of view.

    The very large fossil fuel subsidies (in the billions in Australia alone) just make me see a red mist so I am perhaps not the coolest analyst on that front. They have distorted the economics of energy so severely they cannot be repealed all at once for both political and economic reasons. But they must be repealed sooner or later as they work directly against a carbon price.

  43. Donald Oats
    March 8th, 2011 at 19:43 | #43

    Since the ABC’s appalling 7 o’clock news with leading story concentrating on the news-poll showing the PM Julia Gillard’s rating, and in particular using the carbon price bogey-man to scare the pants of the Aussie battler, I want to add “balance”, ie mention the existence of Jill Duggan and a couple of quotes from stories in other media:

    Jill Duggan on the notion (propagated by the excrable opposition leader) that Australia would be the only country in the world with a carbon price:

    Jill Duggan, who managed Britain’s initial emissions trading scheme (ETS), said there was an incorrect perception that Australia would be going it alone if it put a price on carbon.

    “The thing that struck me is how the debate has changed here and also that wide perception that I keep hearing that Australia shouldn’t go first,” she told reporters in Canberra today.

    “Coming from Europe, that sounds slightly bizarre because there are 30 countries in Europe that have had a carbon price … since the beginning of 2005.”

    …and as recorded (audio) on the ABC website under the title Climate expert astound by Australian carbon debate;

    and, finally, again on the ABC website, with regards to the number of people in the world who live in economies with a price on carbon, etc, under the title Expert downplays carbon tax price rises:

    The carbon tax debate raged on in Canberra this morning as a visiting European Union carbon price expert declared people would see little impact on their cost of living under the scheme.

    The 500 million people in European Union countries have lived with an emissions trading scheme since 2005.

    Jill Duggan, a carbon price expert from the EU’s Directorate-General for Climate Action, says the scheme has created more jobs and was easier to implement than first feared.

    Briefing journalists in Canberra, she said carbon tax only accounted for a fraction of the yearly price rises for fuel.

    The impact would be a quarter of the impact of gas or oil prices, so people notice gas or oil prices rising, they notice the impact on their household bills, but the carbon price is much, much smaller than that in impact.”

    [My boldface]

    You would think a price on carbon is therefore a no-brainer. You would think that…if your brain is one neuron more than the morons at the nOz newspaper senior editorial staff.

    And yet, on the SA version of the ABC News at 7pm and on the National 7:30 Report, all that matters is the pure politics, ie did carbon tax affect the government’s polling, is Abbott using the carbon tax (idea) effectively to ensure he is beating Gillard, etc. No matter whether there is a deeper story there that should be shifting public opinion, if only the structural facts are correctly and neutrally reported. My conclusion is that the ABC is trending – nay, lurching severely – towards the nOz’s quality editorial direction on AGW-related matters. In other words, there are rats there that are nibbling away at the quality journalism the ABC once displayed in spades, and still trades on. What a depressing joke of a channel is ABC free-to-air.

  44. Alice
    March 8th, 2011 at 19:53 | #44

    @Donald Oats
    says or quotes
    “Coming from Europe, that sounds slightly bizarre because there are 30 countries in Europe that have had a carbon price … since the beginning of 2005.”

    Now this is really scary – this is like living in boondocks paddocks …a remote village 30 odd ks from Coonamble that doesnt have an internet connection to the real world or if it does it operates on policy initiatives about ten years after the rest of the world does.

    Welcome to Australia – we will still be doing the free market deregulation privatisation thingie when everyone else has woken up to the fact that it makes messes.
    My God we were still doing whole language when the rest of the world moved back to phonetics for teaching english ( alot of students suffered some pretty bad grammar for quite a few years there – as for handwriting – dont go there – as for maths – what was that science again?).
    What hope have we got? We didnt even manage ta ejucate the kids proply.

    We are just slow and so are the news editors (in fact I think they are actually much slower than the rest of us).

  45. SJ
    March 8th, 2011 at 21:35 | #45

    This one will only be of interest to resource economists, but here’s the greatest academic put-down that I’ve ever seen.

  46. Donald Oats
    March 8th, 2011 at 22:27 | #46


    There is a big chunk of media that seems to miss a lot of what happens overseas, whether through selective ignorance or whatever. To be fair to the ABC though, they did place Jill Duggan’s 500 million/30 countries quote on Lateline tonight – just saw the clip a few minutes back – but they didn’t exactly expend any further effort placing Australia’s previous efforts (or lack thereof) in this context; heck, they just slapped the video-clip up and moved on. At least Tony Windsor is being interviewed now.

  47. may
    March 9th, 2011 at 16:43 | #47

    Steve J. :ALICE -
    I was trying to point out that Limbaugh exemplified one of Prof. Quiggen’s cases of ignorance.

    maybe there are actors reciting lines on talk-back wireless,sort of like call and response to a political end.

  48. Alice
    March 9th, 2011 at 21:52 | #48

    No May – I “Misread” Steve J (read Im wrong)J – it happens. Im not getting younger and demad some respect for my age and mistakes.

  49. Alice
    March 9th, 2011 at 22:01 | #49

    @Donald Oats
    I kind of likeTony Windsor and I think most people would if they knew he went in like a bull to tacckle Minchin over the proposed sale of the Snowy Mountains Scheme and hey guess what ? Windsor thrashed (thrashed the privatisation addicted) Minchin.
    Not much not to admire in terms of what he ie Windsor does to help regional people. Im not a regional person but I want to see our regional towns and communities survive.
    Its not all about me (city slickin dweller).

  50. jquiggin
    March 9th, 2011 at 22:25 | #50

    Alice, it’s nice to see you back, but you’re overdoing it already. Please reduce the volume of comments.

  51. Chris Warren
    March 10th, 2011 at 09:10 | #51

    What the hell does this mean ……

    Welcome to 404 error page!
    Welcome to this customized error page. You’ve reached this page because you’ve clicked on a link that does not exist. This is probably our fault… but instead of showing you the basic ’404 Error’ page that is confusing and doesn’t really explain anything, we’ve created this page to explain what went wrong.

    You can either (a) click on the ‘back’ button in your browser and try to navigate through our site in a different direction, or (b) click on the following link to go to homepage.


    This just puts you into a loop of endless programmers stupidity.

  52. Alice
    March 10th, 2011 at 09:33 | #52

    Ok Boss

  53. Donald Oats
    March 10th, 2011 at 17:32 | #53

    Indeed, further-LOL. Although perhaps his booksales might qualify him as a manufacturer [in the sense of Chomsky, perhaps?]. These guys certainly don’t miss a beat where there might be a buck in it.

  54. March 11th, 2011 at 00:33 | #54

    Just for fun, and to try to get to the bottom of this ‘stacked congress’ story, try putting this in a search engine:

    ” To give the impression of a full House, congressional pages and staff filled many of the empty seats ”

    Funny how it throws up identical page after page after page after page of repetitious snark drawn from the Washington Post.

    Howard also had a stacked House when he went to lick US arse (like Gillard’s nauseating performance) but the difference in media attention is obvious.

    What I find fascinating is why the crazies can’t accept that Gillard is doing everything they want. Is it a kind of “Uncle Tom” thing?

  55. paul walter
    March 11th, 2011 at 09:59 | #55

    Alice I agree, Albrechtsen is a robot, or “fembot” as the gendered term term currently in vogue, puts it.
    I said somewhere, I watched the body language between Albrechtsen and Carlton the other night, only animus.
    Why the ABC continues to stuff the Murdoch commentariat down people’s throats, I can’t fathom.

  56. silkworm
    March 11th, 2011 at 14:17 | #56

    Israelis are claiming Gaddafi as one of their own.

    “The story goes that Gaddafi’s grandmother, a Jewess, was married to a Jewish man at first. But he treated her badly, so she ran away and married a Muslim sheikh. Their child was the mother of Gaddafi.” While Gaddafi’s grandmother converted to Islam when she married the sheikh, according to Jewish religious law (and common sense), she was ethnically still Jewish. And that makes Gaddafi’s mother a Jewess. And if Gaddafi’s mother is a Jewess, what does that make Gaddafi?

    At that point in the news report, the anchor exclaimed, “So, the point is that Gaddafi doesn’t just have Jewish relatives, he is Jewish!”

    That may come in handy. According to Israel’s Law of Return, anyone with a Jewish grandparent is entitled to become a citizen, no questions asked.


    What a propaganda coup that would be for the Israelis.

  57. Alice
    March 11th, 2011 at 17:43 | #57

    @paul walter
    Paul – Albrechsten has made money out of being Murdochs poster cild in the say way that Windschuttle veered so sharply right. These weevils only think about a making a buck for themselves depending on who’s willing to pay them? Shrill cacophonists for vested interests (including their own).

    However, methinks since John Howard has gone… that the impact of what Janet Albrechtsen has to say is more than a little passe…like Miranda. Every fad has its time before boredom and predictability set in. They had the benefit of being JH’s echo but when he went they both seem a little redundant. When you know what they are going to say or argue before they do so…their time has passed.

  58. paul walter
    March 11th, 2011 at 19:09 | #58

    Don’t underestimate the right. There is an orchestrated carcophany coming from them at the moment right across a raft of issues being tested as election fodder. Orchestrating cricis is not some thing theyare unfamiliar with and Gillard reacted by soothing the Hansonists, by oking the wretched Gunns pulp fiction. I can’t beleive Abbott isn’t a passenger the opposition, though.
    Now you see why she’s laid it on so thick at the White house also. She knows the right is trying to wrest the centre away, sucking up to the americans shows she is not a threat.

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